Born in Malaysia, but now calling Melbourne home, Michelle Chong, better known by her musical moniker of echolily, is more than just your average synth-pop musician. A doctor and consultant anaesthetist by day, and a charming bedroom musician by night, Michelle lives between these two stark universes, creating her nostalgic lo-fi sounds while also acting as an essential frontline worker throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Michelle, her music is a way to escape the pressure and struggle of the pandemic, a space where she can find solace and a sense of peace. The result is a very special kind of sound, one that lingers in the quiet space between downtempo electronica, textured synthpop, a rolling, ambient trip-hop, arriving as a magical combination that shines with empathy, heart, and a glistening nostalgia. In her own words, Michelle has expressed that she is always chasing that nostalgic high from old recordings, and true to form, her music resounds with effects of cassette tapes and vinyl records, incorporating those tell-tale crackles and pops that are often misconceived as imperfections.
Her debut single, ‘under the clocks (stay)’ features all these gorgeous features and more, offering a pure and beautifully authentic sound that speaks right to the heart and soul of anyone who hears it. A love letter to Melbourne, as well as heartfelt dedication to Michelle’s friends, fellow healthcare workers, and to everyone in the world affected by this pandemic.
Speaking candidly of the single, Michelle explained, “This is my love letter to Melbourne. During the pandemic lockdown, I went for a lonely walk in the city and was quickly overwhelmed by the emptiness. Melbourne, city of the arts, music city! Now empty…”
She continued, “[A few] years ago, I was busking near Flinders Station when I met this man. He was older and played the trumpet. He told me that he used to meet his lover at Flinder’s Station under the giant clocks. He would say ‘just meet me under the clocks’. Well, that and many other love stories combined, including my own, became the premise of ‘under the clocks (stay)’.”
A stunning debut that is as charming and effortlessly catchy as it is wistful and melancholic, ‘under the clocks (stay)’ has already been streamed almost 50,000 times since its release, and it’s so easy to see why.
Arguably one of 2021’s most ensnaring and important new tracks, echolily’s debut is essential new listening for any fan of emotive, synth-pop or of indie pioneers like Portishead, Bjork, or Jamie xx.
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